John Denver Sanctuary

John Denver Sanctuary

The John Denver Sanctuary is nestled in the heart of Aspen, next to the Rio Grande Park, adjacent to Theatre Aspen's summer performances. Its location, near the Roaring Fork River, makes this an ideal spot for quiet meditation or a family picnic. The Song Garden features many of the iconic singer's lyrics etched into native river boulders placed in a perfect circle to represent the circle of life as a score of music. At the circle's center, a single Colorado Blue Spruce was planted which symbolizes the spirit of John. It is an idyllic location and visitors will not wonder for long where "Rocky Mountain High" originated. The man-made wetlands and winding streams work as an innovative stormwater filter system, cleaning water before it drains into the Roaring Fork River. Within the Sanctuary, you will find one of the largest perennial flower gardens open to the public, which adds to the friendly atmosphere for its visitors from around the globe. These beautiful gardens start blooming during late May/ early June, which makes this the perfect location for small get-togethers or even weddings.

*Please note there is no public parking at the sanctuary so we recommend that you utilize the nearby parking garage.

John Denver - Biography

The internationally acclaimed songwriter called Aspen home for much of his life. His love for the Rocky Mountains inspired many of his songs. He enjoyed his time outdoors spending time hiking, golfing, and skiing among other outdoor activities.

John Denver was an active environmentalist and shared environmental messages through music. He performed for the benefit of many charitable organizations including the Deaf Camp Benefit concert. He founded two environmental groups: The Windstar Foundation, conserving land in Snowmass, and Plant-It 2020, a reforestation organization.

To see Aspen through John Denver's perspective, listen to "Rocky Mountain High" and "Starwood in Aspen".


How the Sanctuary Came to Be

In the spring of 1998, months after John Denver’s tragic death, Jeff Woods, Manager of Parks & Recreation at the City of Aspen, approached Annie Denver to collaborate on a place to celebrate Denver’s life. The concept was beyond just a memorial, “but also served as a garden to capture nature’s spirit. We decided to call it a ‘sanctuary’ and that it should reflect John’s passion for nature and protecting the environment.” -Wood. On August 15, 1998, Mayor Bennett and City Council officially dedicated the 4.5-acre site as the John Denver Sanctuary. Over the next 15+ years, a team of passionate professionals from the City of Aspen has transformed this small ditch, which used to flow through an underground pipe, into an environmental masterpiece. They sculpted thousands of cubic yards of earth, found and placed hundreds of boulders, planted groves of native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers and created wetlands, streams and waterfalls into this unique landscape which captures Aspen's beauty but also serves to continuously clean the community's storm water runoff.

City of Aspen Guide to the John Denver Sanctuary 

John Denver Shrine

Pay tribute to John Denver in the winter on Aspen Mountain where a shrine was erected after his death. The shrine is located off of Bellissimo Trail.


John Denver Celebration

A yearly celebration takes place each October as fans pay tribute to John Denver. The John Denver Celebration includes musical tributes, personal remembrances, luncheons, gatherings in the sanctuary, and more.

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